Today Governor Christie announced his decision to kill the ARC tunnel project, a decision that is wrong because the tunnel should be fixed, not cancelled. The decision by the Governor will setback New Jersey's transportation needs. We believe that the Governor has killed this project to use the money towards the Transportation Trust Fund. This is wrong for New Jersey and the region because this will undermine our transportation needs, lead to sprawl and congestion.
The Governor has come out in support of the AmTrak tunnel, which is a step in the right direction, however we do not know that he is sincere. As a result New Jersey will lose 3 billion in federal transportation money. If the governor is sincere he should have continued to work on the New Jersey side with the federal money. He could have used that time to negotiate with Amtrak and New York to bring the tunnel to Penn Station instead of losing the 3 billion dollars.
Instead of taking the money to build more unnecessary highways, we should be fixing the plan for the tunnel so it meets the transportation needs of the region. We believe if the Governor is really going to cancel this project, the Amtrak should step in to ensure another tunnel is created for public transportation in the region.
It's better to have a tunnel to Macy's basement than no tunnel at all.
New Jersey needs to fund its Transportation Trust Fund by raising the gas tax and other sources of revenue, not by taking the money for this project.
We believe Governor Christie is cancelling this project not because it doesn't do what it should be doing but rather as an excuse to take the money for the Transportation Trust Fund. This is not about saving taxpayers money; this is really about having more money for highways and other sprawl inducing projects.
By killing the tunnel we loose $3 billion in federal dollars, making this cancellation pennywise and pound foolish. Instead of doing what's best for the public interest, the Governor has delayed what he intended to do in the first place, cancelling the project and ruining all chances for improving transportation access for the people of New Jersey and the region.
The riders of the lost ARC will have nowhere to go, they'll be in their cars stuck in traffic.
The Democrats and supporters' refusal to try and make the tunnel work to meet the original goals of ARC also gave the Governor another reason to kill the project.
While the Sierra Club was initially critical of the ARC project because it did not meet the needs of the region, we strongly believe another tunnel is necessary and vehemently oppose stealing the money for unnecessary road projects. Instead of cancelling the project, we should have continued work on the New Jersey side and come together to develop a plan to fix the configuration issues in New York.
Construction of the tunnel on the New Jersey side didn't have to end just because the project was being reconfigured to work better. Work could have continued in New Jersey as officials straightened out the plan for the New York side, making the tunnel come into Penn Station and meeting the other objectives the project was initially supposed to achieve.
With Amtrak's 30 year Capital Plan envisioning expanded high speed rail, the need for an effective and comprehensive plan for the tunnel is essential. An efficient and coordinated high speed rail system would benefit the people of New Jersey as well as the environment and we should work together to see it come to fruition.
We are concerned that Governor Christie may think the road to the White House goes through killing the ARC tunnel.
Jeff Tittel is the Director of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club.